27-03-2021 / Endocrinology & Diabetes

Symptoms of iodine deficiency | How to get enough sources of Iodine

Iodine is necessary for the overall development of the body. Iodine plays a role in metabolism and maintenance of the normal working of the body. Here are few symptoms of Iodine Deficiency and how to get enough Iodine in food.

Symptoms of iodine deficiency | How to get enough sources of Iodine
Mazia AhmedMazia Ahmed

Mazia Ahmed

MSc Nutrition Science, Ph.D. Scholar

Table of Content


  • Iodine and its deficiency have been a matter of concern in India for ages. The main problem here is the unawareness of people. Indians keep on ignoring the value of Iodine which leads to various fatal disorders. Here in this article, we will discuss the effects of Iodine deficiency, How to know whether you are Iodine deficient, and the solution to this problem.

  • Iodine is one of the most essential elements required in our body. Basically, if you talk of Iodine, many parts and organs in the human body require this element. Iodine is necessary for the overall development of the body and for maintaining the basal metabolic rate. Iodine plays a role in metabolism and maintenance of the normal working of the body. The primary need for Iodine is with the Thyroid gland and Thyroxine hormone. The Thyroid is responsible for maintaining the metabolic rate necessary for sustaining life in an individual. Iodine Deficiency directly relates to disturbing the synthesis of thyroxine hormone and further disturbing the body's normal working.

  • Low concentration of Iodine intake and body's metabolism is a cause of enlargement of the thyroid gland. Not just the glands inflate and cause a condition called Goitre, but it also causes a very troublesome situation that hurts the body in different ways. Iodine deficiencies in children can cause long-lasting mental retardation and ruin the patient's life.

Source of Iodine

It is a very strange fact, but the human body cannot synthesize numerous vital minerals and vitamins needed for proper growth and development. Iodine is essential, but this mineral cannot be synthesized naturally by the body. Hence the only source of Iodine in the human system is food. Many countries in the world lack Iodine in their food, which makes the condition very risky. On the other hand, India stands very positive with Iodine. Most households now use iodized salts in their food which is very efficient in providing an accurate iodine amount. However, there could be other sources too.

Food sources of Iodine

Some of the other sources to acquire Iodine

  • Dairy Products.

  • Meat.

  • Egg.

  • Fish.

  • Seaweed.

Iodine Requirement

According to the standard measurement, an adult has a requirement of 150 micrograms of Iodine per day. Whereas if we talk about pregnant ladies, the requirement ranges more than normal, and on average, the need becomes 250 micrograms per day. For lactating mothers, the iodine requirement is 280 micrograms/day.

Iodine Deficiency

The deficiency of Iodine is a big problem nowadays. Neglecting the proper value of Iodine in the food can cause grave health-related issues. On average more than 2 billion people in the world suffer from something called Iodine Deficiency. And next to 60% of these suffer from diseases and severe life-threatening conditions due to Iodine deficiency. Pregnant ladies who don't take care of the proper supplement or neglect the fact that Iodine is essential for the developing baby are the most vulnerable ones. If one neglects the problem and continues with deficient Iodine in the body, the baby can have major deformities and retardations. Sometimes even the conditions become life-threatening for the baby. A pregnant lady should be conscious and try to take as much Iodine as possible to help out the baby developing inside her.

10 Signs and symptoms of Iodine Deficiency

Symptoms and Signs of Iodine Deficiency
  1. A Thyroid Swelling- Thyroid Swelling can be easily observed on your neck region as a big lump. In Goitre, this swelling becomes life-threatening.

  2. Fatigue- People with Thyroid deficiency can quickly get tired.

  3. Symptoms of Constipation are also seen.

  4. Dry skin is observed.

  5. Some muscles can degrade or show signs of weakness.

  6. Cholesterol Levels are seen raised.

  7. Thinning of hair.

  8. The deficiency of Iodine causes depression.

  9. Poor memory.

  10. Irregular Menstrual cycle.

5 Signs of iodine deficiency in Infants

  1. An abnormal long tongue.

  2. Puffy face.

  3. The child can choke frequently.

  4. The child will feel sleepy.

  5. The muscle tone becomes very unpleasant in appearance.

  • As we have mentioned before, a low basal metabolic rate of a child can reduce the IQ of the developing baby, and hence it can hamper the rest of his/her life.

  • The child can have a struggle with learning things and responding. In such a case, he/she will have a poor memory, and he will find it difficult to communicate with memorized thoughts.

  • Sometimes it results in complete mental retardation, and the patient cannot lead a healthy and normal life.

Iodine Deficiency Complications

National Iodine Deficiency Chart

National Iodine Deficiency Chart.

  • When the body gets deficient with Iodine, it results in a condition known as Hypothyroidism. It might include various complications such as-.

  • There is an enlarged heart seen in some of the cases, resulting in failure of valves which can lead to complete Heart failure.

  • Depressions and impairment in senses can be seen in many cases.

  • There is damage seen in the peripheral nerves due to deficiency of thyroxine.

  • Irregular ovulation is seen in women, which can lead to infertility.

In Pregnancy, Iodine is essential, and deficiency can cause

  • Stillbirth.

  • Miscarriage.

  • Congenital deformity (birth defects).


Cretinism is associated with severe iodine deficiency during intrauterine life. A wide range of defects such as mental retardation, deaf-mutism, and spastic paralysis of legs in varying degrees are associated with this condition. This is a life-threatening condition and sometimes can be fatal.

How to detect that one is deficient with Iodine?

There could be many ways by which one could detect Iodine deficiency in the body. Basically, there are four different ways to detect the amount of Iodine in your body.

  • Urine Test: This is an important test performed in the lab to get iodine results. But this test is not as accurate as of the others. It is not as efficient as other Iodine tests. The main benefit of this test is the fact that it doesn't take a lot of time.

  • Blood Test: It is a better test for determining the level of Iodine in the body. A blood test can take a longer time to give you the results, but it can easily be trusted. You do require a blood sample to be collected for this test.

  • The Iodine Patch Test: This is the best, quickest, and most efficient test seen with Iodine. In this test, the person who is being checked for Iodine gets a patch on his skin by the doctors. This patch is left over the skin for 24 hours, and after the duration, the doctors examine the color of the patch. The person with deficient Iodine makes the patch faded. This happens as the skin absorbs the Iodine in the Iodine patch. This test gives a surety of Iodine.

  • Loading test: This is a very hectic test, but it is the most accurate, giving exact iodine numbers. In this test, the patients must collect all the urine they pass in 24 hours of duration.  

The burden of iodine deficiency in India

  • In a survey of 325 districts in India, 263 were found to be deficient with Iodine in their significant population. More than 350 million people in India do not consume good Iodized salt in an adequate amount. These data are enough to show the dire situation in India when it comes to Iodine.

  • But the question remains, How to manage iodine deficiency and get the solution. Here are the ways by which we can treat Iodine deficiency

How to manage Iodine deficiency?

It is evident that Iodine cannot be produced by the human body. All we can do to manage is by supplementing the diet. There are many iodine supplements that we can get easily. Your doctor will prescribe all about the required supplements. It is important to note that certain people are the most prone to such a deficiency. These may include-

  • Vegetarians.

  • Women with pregnancy.

  • Infants with poor supplements.

The best supplements which easily get absorbed in the body are the one that has potassium in them. The added potassium makes it easy for the Iodine to get absorbed in the body. So if you are looking for supplements in the market, it is better to search for potassium iodate components. This will help you in getting Iodine in the best possible way. An excess supplement of more than 150mcg could cause toxicity in the human body. Hence, supplements should be taken with proper consultation with the doctor and in the prescribed amount. Before going for artificial supplements, first, try to include the natural sources of Iodine in the diet.

Word of Wisdom

The broad spectrum of Iodine Deficiency Disorders and the associated socio-economic consequences significantly affect the development of the community and the nation. Fortunately, the control and prevention of this scourge are made feasible by the availability of suitable technologies and strategies, which are cheap and feasible. The government of India has also taken a decision in favor of ensuring universal access to iodized salt in the entire country.   

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